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Letters Feb. 24: A crisis in Port Hardy; clinic wait times inaccurate; ferries not properly built

B.C. Ferries vessel Coastal Inspiration. B.C. FERRIES

Port Hardy crisis is being ignored

Hello Victoria from Port Hardy: Can you hear us? We have had at least five people in our small community die prematurely in the past week — from accidents and overdoses — why is this not provincially or nationally relevant?

Is it because most of them are ­Indigenous?

As a family doctor with over 1,500 patients and as medical director of the North Island Community Health Centre, I have faced patients all of this week who are acutely struggling with the grief and trauma of these losses.

I have repeatedly reached out to Island Health leadership but have not received a reply.

This is a crisis. We need leadership and support.

Alexander E. Nataros MD

Port Hardy

Don’t trust reports on clinic wait times

Re: “B.C. has longest wait times in ­Canada for walk-in clinics,” Feb. 22.

I seriously question the validity of these reports. They are reporting the patients who get in the door, not how many patients were turned away as the clinic was either at capacity or there no doctor was available.

I do not have a doctor so I have used the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Clinic. That clinic opens at 8 a.m., ­people start lining up before 6 a.m. If you are not in the lineup by 6 or 7 a.m. you will not be seen as the clinic will have reached capacity.

If you try to drop in during the day, nine times out of 10 you will not be seen as they’re already at capacity.

On a daily basis many people are turned away and not seen.

Last winter I had pneumonia, and on each visit I was told if the meds didn’t help in a couple of days to come back. I returned four times, feeling ill and leaving the house before 6 a.m. to join the lineup in the cold winter weather.

I challenge Health Minister Adrian Dix to join the lineups for a few days and talk to people and observe what is happening.

It isn’t a pretty picture. There are elderly people who can barely stand, young moms with babies that are days old, all looking for medical care that is not available.

B.C. residents deserve better than what we’re receiving.

How many people will die because they have not received timely care.

Anyone who thinks this system is working is delusional and has never had to use the system.

Audrey Noel


Nanaimo best site for a new shipyard

The reliability of Coastal Class ­vessels hinges on B.C. Ferries addressing their inherent vibration issues, stemming from partially submerged ­propellers.

These issues, present since inception, necessitated the avoidance of ­propeller use to prevent damage and led to a ­challenging approach policy causing damage to the Duke Point dock.

The severity of vibration on every vessel poses safety risks, indicative of underlying structural deficiencies caused by cost-saving measures during construction.

To rectify this, Coastal Class vessels require the installation of sufficient plate steel as originally planned. Constructing a submersible barge exclusively for B.C. Ferries in Nanaimo, where job ­opportunities are scarce, ensures a steady workforce, enabling the use of the latest methods in construction.

Until the propellers are submerged for safe manoeuvring, the vessels will remain underutilized and unreliable, emphasizing the necessity for another shipyard on the south coast of British Columbia, with Nanaimo being the only viable option.

This approach ensures the ­production of above-average quality ferries ­capable of navigating worsening weather ­conditions due to climate change.

R.M. Ireland


Giving the wealthy some government help

So the premier decides people earning up to $192,000 a year will be eligible for government help with their housing expenses.

Such wonderful welfare for the well-to-do! The NDP used to depend on the votes of people with much lower limited income.

Obviously, those people’s votes have been bought off, but he still needs to buy more.

T.L. Pedneault-Peasland


When vocal groups wield the influence

So the proposed changes to the Land Act are on hold (at least until after the ­election). The minister responsible is quoted as saying “officials want to get this right and move forward together.”

Congratulations to the stakeholder groups who managed to make their ­concerns heard by an erstwhile deaf ­government.

The proposed legislative changes were just the latest in a list of legislative changes imposed on citizens who made legal lifestyle choices, only to have them arbitrarily overturned by this government with little or no consultation (Airbnb, condo rentals, etc.) and no regard for any financial impact to those citizens.

There was a time when the provincial government had a process in place for extensive analysis of proposed legislative changes, ensuring there were no unintended consequences.

Now it seems the analysis is left to stakeholders and the larger more vocal groups have a distinct advantage.

It certainly makes it difficult to know who to vote for.

Pat Jackson


Take the high road when discussing the Land Act

It is disappointing to see that the important policy discussion about the Land Act has descended into a partisan issue.

People in my circle who have had questions and concerns about the proposed amendments, and the way the engagement process has been handled, come from all political camps.

In a democracy it is our role as citizens to ask questions and hold elected governments to account. Let’s have the policy discussions and nix the branding and finger pointing.

This issue is too important for that.

Take the high road, people.

Valerie Z. Cameron


Finance minister’s curious photo op

I saw on the front page the provincial finance minister posing for a photo at a food bank on budget day.

Running the province in such a ­fashion that record numbers of citizens must rely on food banks is not a ­ringing endorsement of the government’s ­financial acumen, is it?

I’d be more likely to vote for a finance minister who was posing in front of a food bank that was boarded up because we didn’t need it anymore.

Rob Angus


Private development won’t fix housing

In recent times, local development projects of dubious merit have been rushed through approvals because they contained some mention of “affordable” accommodation. But no one is defining what “affordable” means in this context.

If it is just a euphemism for substandard, we are busily constructing some serious problems for the future. If it means that the developer is going to sell or rent the unit at a below-market price for the initial occupant, what guarantees do we have that future occupants will have the same advantage?

Years ago, in the U.K., many municipalities owned housing which was rented at an affordable level. A few years ago, it was generally decided to offer the houses to the occupants at an ­advantageous price to encourage ­homeownership.

It was spectacularly successful. The areas improved measurably in both social and physical environment. However, affordability didn’t last.

As the occupants changed, the properties sold at market price; a huge win for the initial occupant but putting affordability back to where it was before the scheme began, out of reach for many people. It looks as if we’re making the same mistakes.

Private development will never ­correct housing affordability. The only feasible way is to have publicly owned and administered accommodation, as has been recognized and put into action in most other countries.

Much of Europe lives in this kind of housing, in the U.K. it is more than 50 per cent of households. It’s not a ­politically attractive move with ­implications of the “nanny” state, but in this instance “nanny knows best.”

It’s also a nasty economic hit but the initial costs can be controlled by using publicly owned land and the governments’ powers to reduce the soft costs of construction.

The sooner we recognize the ­inevitable and make a start, the better for everyone. Keep private development out of the equation, judging projects on their intrinsic merit; have ­municipalities use their land to solve the housing ­problem themselves.

Alec Mitchell


Consider the misery, not just the data

Dr. Perry Kendall in his Feb. 16 commentary calls for an evidence-based approach to properly assess expanding the BC SAFER strategy of a regulated drug supply.

Does he not see the concrete evidence, the shocking level of misery occurring in every city of this province, that has resulted since this entire drug decriminalization project began? That’s not scare mongering, that’s fact.

In what abstract universe can ­someone possibly be living to think that simply more data is needed to demonstrate the efficacy of a strategy that is so obviously failing the real world?

Is the disturbing figure he cites — a daily average of seven drug-related deaths around the province — just another piece of data be used to continue to try to measure the impossible?

And we once thought the enforcement approach to dealing with drug addiction was all wrong.

Paul Walton


Letter on Fast Cats was not from David Stocks, naval architect

Re: “A great design, but we tinkered with it,” letter, Feb. 22.

The letter offering an opinion about the suitability of the Fast Cats to the intended service of B.C. Ferries was written by David Stocks — a different David Stocks than me.

As a professional naval architect and recently retired president of a naval architecture company with offices in ­Victoria and Vancouver, I respectfully ask for a disclaimer on this opinion.

B.C. Ferries is a valued customer, and ferry engineering is a large component of the work conducted by the company.

I do not wish my name, and thus the company, to be associated with this ­opinion.

David T. Stocks

Past president, 3GA Marine Ltd.


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